Business Casual Dress Code: Dressing For Success

Business Casual Dress Code, Dressing For Success, Laloom Kaftans

Business casual is another tricky dress code, particularly for women, because it is an ambiguous dress code that straddles two distinctly different genres.  Business wear tends to be formal and conservative in nature whilst casual wear is brighter and freer.  So how do you balance the two?

Enter the business casual dress code.  Effectively, business casual involves wearing your favourite casual wear but pairing it with elements of formal business wear.  For me, that generally means wearing your favourite jeans but pairing them with a suit jacket.  Business casual in Australia can even see men wearing shorts to the office.  For women, business casual can cover an incredibly broad fashion spectrum: you could wear your favourite kaftan dress with a fitted blazer or pair your most comfortable jeans with a button down shirt.  The choice is almost limitless!

The one aspect of the business casual dress code that doesn’t leave much room for negotiation (even in the boardroom) is your footwear.  It has been almost universally agreed that open toed shoes are simply not office appropriate: so if you’re asked to conform to a business casual dress code then ensure that you’re wearing closed toed shoes.  That doesn’t have to mean wearing heels: flat pumps, brogues or even loafers will all fit the business casual bill too.

Business Casual Dress Code, Cocoa Island Short Kaftan, Laloom Kaftans
In this photo:  Cocoa Island Short Kaftan Dress

Top Tips For Conforming To A Business Casual Dress Code

Dress for the industry you work for:

The more creative your industry, the more freedom you will have to choose you outfit.  Don’t think that you have to wear beige to blend in; creative people stand out!  So if you’re an artist, a writer, a graphic designer, or any other kind of creative then choose a business casual style that will best reflect the kind of work that you do.

Take your cues from the management team:

Often it is the management team that chooses and implements a business casual dress code, so take your cues on what that will mean for you from your boss.  If their idea of office casual is to wear jeans then you can wear jeans.  If they’re wearing a business suit but have (gasp, horror!) simply removed their tie then there interpretation of the business casual dress code might be a little more formal, and you should lean to the side of business rather than to casual.

Invest in a well fitting tailored blazer or suit jacket:

Opt for a universally flattering and complementary colour, such as black, grey or navy blue.  This is an essential office wear piece that will carry you anywhere, no matter what the dress code.  Always appropriate for any business occasion, a blazer can be paired with coordinating trousers to create a suit or used to add an edge of formality to more flamboyant and interesting pieces.


Business Casual Dress, Reethi Rah Short Kaftan, Laloom Kaftans
In this photo:  Reethi Rah Short Kaftan

Can You Wear Business Casual To A Job Interview?

Preparing for a job interview can be nerve wracking, especially if you have no idea what to wear.  And if you’re interviewing in an office that boasts a business casual dress code then this can feel even more tricky.  In this situation, there are two things to bear in mind:

It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed: 

You’re much more likely to be viewed negatively by the interview panel if you turn up in jeans and thongs than if you turn up in a two piece suit and sensible heels.  So if in doubt, always dress up a little more.

Let your personality shine through:

You want to let the team know exactly who they’re hiring, so if you have a big personality, or you’re the kind of person who wears a beautiful, colourful kaftan dress to the office everyday then don’t be afraid to show them who you really are and let your personality shine through.  You might even find that your interview is more memorable, and is more likely to lead to success, if you do.

In this photo:  Mirihi Island Short Kaftan

Business Casual: The Yes And No List!

So, are there any pieces that absolutely shouldn’t be worn if a dress code calls for business casual?  Yes, there are.  But don’t worry, we’re here to help!  Here is a comprehensive, blow-by-blow list of the ‘must wear’ and ‘must avoid’ items to include or exclude from your business casual wardrobe:

Must include

Tops:  button down shirts, loose flowing kaftans, sweaters, silk shell tops, fitted t shirts
Bottoms:  cigarette pants, fitted trousers, dark coloured jeans
Dresses:  shift dresses, kaftan dresses, loose fitting maxi dresses
Accessories:  leather bags, closed toed shoes, subtle jewellery

Must avoid

Tops:  t shirts with bold logos, sports wear, low cuts, anything shiny or glittery
Bottoms:  loose fitting trousers, sports pants, yoga pants, leggings, light or ripped denim
Dresses:  t shirt dresses, strapless dresses, anything that falls above the knee
Accessories:  sandals, sneakers, oversized statement jewellery

Final note: remember that ‘business casual’ means the outfit you wear must be suitable for a business environment.  So leave the faded t shirts and the tennis shoes at home!  Instead dress like the best and most comfortable version of you and you’re sure to shine, whether you’re looking for something to wear for a job interview or an important meeting with new clients.



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